Pasta with Anchovies and Toasted Bread Crumbs


Pasta with Anchovies and Toasted Bread Crumbs (muddica atturata) is one of the simplest pasta dishes to make in Sicilian cuisine.  The seasoning sauce (olive oil, garlic, and anchovy) takes 2 minutes to cook.  Dinner ready in 20 minutes or less (if you toast the bread crumbs ahead of time)!  How’s that for in a jiffy quick?  Lightly browning the garlic in olive oil imparts a wonderful fragrance to this humble rustic dish.  Don’t be put off by the anchovies.  They melt while cooking and give this dish a distinctive salty flavor rather than fishy flavor.  But the most important thing is to eat it in classic Sicilian style – with a generous dusting of toasted breadcrumbs for added crunch.  If you’re a lover of anchovies like I am, you’ll love this pasta dish.

(Pasta cu L’anciova è Muddica Atturata /Pasta con Acciughe è Pangrattato Abbrustolito)

Difficulty Rating:  Easy
Makes 4 servings.

For the Toasted Bread Crumbs:
1 cup plain dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons olive oil

For the Pasta:
1 pound dry spaghetti or linguine
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 to 6 flat fillets of anchovies, chopped
2 tablespoons salted butter
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese

MAKE THE TOASTED BREAD CRUMBS:  Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat.  Stir in the breadcrumbs and cook stirring constantly until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and continue stirring for 1 minute longer to prevent burning.  Residual heat from the pan will continue cooking the breadcrumbs.  Be careful not to burn them.

*Can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container for several days.

MAKE THE PASTA:  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat.  Add the spaghetti and cook to “al dente.”  Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, until it starts to turn golden brown.

Stir in the anchovy and cook until it disintegrates, about 1 minute.  Stir in the butter and red pepper flakes.

Add the pasta and parsley into the skillet with the anchovy/garlic mixture and toss to coat.  Add some of the cooking water if the pasta seems too dry.  Season with salt and black pepper.  Serve with Pecorino and toasted breadcrumbs.

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